Tackling critical sustainability challenges in the global mining industry

Hi everyone, I just thought I would share with you a minerals industry initiative, NextMineTM, that is being run through our institute, the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland in Australia.

NextMine™ is a transformational strategic initiative to assist the minerals industry address major challenges that have the potential to limit the responsible development of the sector. I'm personally involved with the project on Rare Earths which is adapting an industrial ecology approach to the RE supply chain to find ways to increase recycling and prevent supply chain constraints.

A key aim of NextMine is to demonstrate the value in applying a multi-disciplinary or connected approach to solving the challenges facing this industry.  I think this is an innovative way to deal with complex issues and help establish an avenue of communication between different disciplinary 'silos' to find practical solutions.

One outcome from the Rare Earths project is the formation of a consortium to enable collaboration between industry, government and research institutions along the rare earths value chain to address:

  • International governance and security concerns around rare earths supply
  • Industrial ecological approaches to minimizing environmental footprint of rare earths
  • Perceived and real nuclear risks and social conflicts
  • Economic determinants and future contributions of the sector to a green economy

More details on the consortium are at http://www.csrm.uq.edu.au/rareearths and further information the NextMineTM is at  http://www.smi.uq.edu.au/ResearchProjects/ResearchIntegration/NextM....

Happy to answer any questions - just drop me a note!

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Hi Glen,

How interesting you mention your project with rare earths.
Like I said before, I live in Colombia, and a while ago a report came out where there were market concerns of these elements that were acquired in our country, even though Colombia was not officially exporting these rare earths.

I also find it very cool that you are based on industrial ecology: besides recycling, are you promoting other initiatives, like reduce waste in the first place? Have you thought of any ecolabelling scheme to certify best practices?

Thanks for the information you shared to us.

Hi Lucas

Thanks for your message and your interest in our work in rare earths and your comments on the report regarding rare earths in Colombia. Do you have a link to that report? It would be interesting to read even if it is not necessarily right on all aspects, as you suggest.

The industrial ecology work I have been involved  with is 'pretty cool' and hopefully a way of the future.  Yes, we are trying to promote an overall reduction in footprint - it is much better to produce less waste in the first place, but if it is generated then we should try to re-use it where feasible.  Another project we have just commenced with other Australian universities (UTS, Monash and Swinburne) as well as Yale is heavily focussed on industrial ecology and in particular metals recycling and re-use in an Australian context. While the project does have some aspects on technology, the main thrust is about all the other issues - environmental, social, policy and business issues -  and the important role that they play in getting greater uptake of industrial ecology initiatives. This includes things like eco-labels etc. We are in the process of publicising it more widely soon, so watch this space!

Thanks again for your interest.



Hi Glen,

Thank you very much for your answer. I think it is a totally and wonderful integrated strategy you mention, quite cool.
I will be very attentive to the progress of these projects: here in Colombia I find it very useful to use the Industrial Ecology approach to teach everything about Sustainable Design, so I would love to continue reading the news of your projects.

I am sharing some links regarding to what I told you about Colombia and rare earths; you can see the following news (I am sorry because they are in Spanish, but I'd rather give them to you in original, and I hope a translator may ease the reading)




Let me know what you think about it!


Best regards,


Hi Lucas

Thanks for the links to the reports.  I'm afraid I can't speak Spanish so I have asked one of my colleagues who can to give me an overview.  I'll let you know what I think once that has happened.

Thanks again.


Hi Glen,

Great! I am sorry again for giving you these in spanish, but I am sure you will find it quite interesting.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


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